Maclaurin and Newton: The Newtonian Style and the Authority of Mathematics

Document Type

Book Chapter


Mathematics (Pitzer)

Publication Date



Isaac Newton, Colin Maclaurin, Newtonianism, Authority


This is Chapter 5 of Science and Medicine in the Scottish Enlightenment, edited by Charles W.J. Withers and Paul Wood.

Writing to Dugald Stewart in June 1789, Thomas Jefferson enthused that as far as science was concerned, "no place in the world can pretend to a competition with Edinburgh". Yet, despite similar encomiums down the years, the role of the natural sciences and medicine in the Scottish Enlightenment is still neither generally appreciated nor fully understood. The collection of ten essays by scholars in the field provides a comprehensive overview of the place of scientific and medical enquiry in Scotland during the period 1690-1815. Each chapter presents new research in order to reflect upon previous interpretations and to suggest fresh perspectives on the relationship between science and medicine and culture and society in 18th-century Scotland. Collectively, the essays illustrate both the centrality of natural and medical knowledge in enlightened culture and the wider implications of Scotland's story for an understanding of science and medicine in the modern world.

Rights Information

© 2002 Judith V. Grabiner